Frugal Wife Brings Husband’s Spending to a Halt!!! …or better than Panera’s granola recipe

I know.  I’m a dork.  I think the fresh air and sunshine made me giddy.  (We went apple picking again today.)

But, it is kind of true…

A few months ago, I noticed that Panera was charging $8.76 to our debit card several times a week.  To me, this meant one of two things…

1.  Darren had discovered the best breakfast ever.
2.  We were the identity theft victims of a Panera junkie.

Assuming that the first scenario was more likely than the second, I decided to call my hubby before the bank.  After asking Darren why he was keeping me in the dark about the “next big thing” when it comes to breakfast, you can imagine my surprise when his answer was simply, “Oh, it’s nothing special. I just found out that Panera serves an organic yogurt and granola parfait.”

Me (trying to stay calm), “You’re spending $25.00 a week on plain ol’ yogurt and granola?!?  Those are worth, like, $1.50 each!”  (Yes, I say “like” when trying to do mathematical calculations in my head.)

My sweet husband:  “But it’s organic yogurt.  And I really like the granola.”

Me (trying to come up with a compromise):  “Well, do you want me to start making you super-yummy homemade granola and buying the single serving organic yogurt cups for you to take with you to work?”

Darren: “I didn’t know you knew how to make granola!  I thought you only knew how to make granola bars.”

Me:  (pause.)  “Hmm.  I guess I don’t.  But, I’m willing to learn if it will save us that much money!”

What Darren said:  “Thanks, honey.”

What Darren was thinking:  “Fabulous.  Now I get to be the homemade granola guinea pig.  Next time, I’ll hit the ATM.”

My husband rocks.

So, this whole homemade granola experiment began back in May.  It was kind of like dating.  None of the granola we made was bad, it just wasn’t the one we wanted to commit to long-term.  As I played around with seed to nut to oat ratios, different types of sweeteners, fats, add-ins, baking temps, and cooling techniques, Darren lovingly took his breakfast to work each and every day, never really complaining.  He did ask me one evening if I knew that he doesn’t really care for the taste of shredded coconut.  (I’d added it to the batch made the day before.)  Oh, and another afternoon he asked if I added “all of that dried fruit” because the girls preferred it that way.  I made notes of my down falls and kept tweaking the recipe every week.   Finally, a few weeks ago, I received a morning text that read…

BEST granola ever!!!

Cha-ching.  Here ya go…

Basic Granola Recipe

Ingredients (Makes about 5 cups.  Feel free to double.)

Old fashioned oats, 2 1/2 cups (not steel cut or instant)
Raw sunflower seeds, 1 cup
Raw almonds, 1 cup

Butter, 2 tbsp

Raw, local honey, 1/2 cup
Ground cinnamon, 1 tbsp + 1 tsp
Pure vanilla, 1 tsp
Sea salt, 1/2 tsp
Xantham gum, 1/2 tsp

Instructions (37 minutes, 7 minutes active):

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

While oven heats, combine oats, sunflower seeds, and almonds in a large mixing bowl.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tbsp butter.  Once melted, stir for an additional 30 – 45 seconds, until butter is slightly browned.

Whisk in honey, cinnamon, vanilla, sea salt, and xantham gum.  Continue to whisk for about 2 minutes, until honey is starting to bubble and spices have been incorporated throughout.

Drizzle syrup over dry ingredients.  Using a large spatula, stir until all of the dry ingredients are coated. Remember, the syrup is very hot!  Let your little ones measure the oats, seeds, and nuts, not do the mixing here!

Once wet and dry ingredients are well combined, pour onto a Silpat or parchment lined rimmed baking sheet.  Spread granola into an even layer.  Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes.  Stir granola and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 15 – 20 minutes.  (The granola will not be crunchy when it first comes out of the oven, but will crisp as it cools.)

Crumble granola and store in a large airtight container for at least 10 days.  Ours is always gone by then, it may last longer.

Serve as is, with yogurt, milk, almond milk, fresh fruit, crumbled over baked apples, the possibilities are endless!

Notes:  Who knew that making granola was so simple?!?  My girls love to help make “Daddy’s granola”, sneaking nibbles at every step along the way.  If you would like to add dried fruit or coconut to yours, please do so after baking and cooling.  Otherwise, these ingredients burn.  We found the best granola to add-in ratio was about 1 1/2 cups of add-ins to a single batch.  Those sensitive to nuts can easily omit the almonds and double the sunflower seeds.  Using pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds) is another fun way to mix it all up.  This granola is naturally vegetarian and can easily go vegan by using coconut oil for the butter, and agave nectar for the honey.  Those sensitive to gluten can proceed as written when gluten-free oats are used.

Disclaimer:  I have never had Panera’s granola so I really don’t know how it tastes in comparison.  All I can say is that my hubby thinks this is better, and, when making a batch per week, I will save our family approximately $1096.83 a year.  

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Truestar Health


  1. I think you mean to stir the butter for an additional 30-45 SECONDS. Thanks for sharing. I can't wait to try it.

  2. Oh my! Yes! Thank you for the correction!!!

  3. sounds delicious! thanks for sharing! and somewhat related, Wendy's has a really yummy “oatmeal bar” for breakfast. it is a bit more like a cookie, with cranberries and blueberries in it. If you ever try one, you should totally find a way to make those, and it a healthy way!


  1. […] crunchy, salty, sweet, whatever. Some nutrient-packed and tasty options are almonds and raisins, homemade granola, dried fruit, homemade vegan protein bars, apples and single serving packets of almond butter, […]

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